Fantastic First Day in Seoul (Namsan Park, Namdaemun Market, and Cheonggyecheon)

If today is any indication of the rest of the week, this is going to be a great vacation.  I was a little concerned that I would be visiting this Korea out of season, but it has been a blessing – although admittedly it has been pretty cold.  First, because I think the hotels have a lot of empty rooms, when we arrived they upgraded us to a nice suite, which I’ll write about in a future post.  Second, there are no crowds whatsoever to deal with.  Third, this is becoming a very cheap vacation – many of the attractions are free or have modest fees, the state of the art subway system is dirt cheap and can pretty much take you anywhere in the city quickly, and the food has been outstanding and inexpensive.   At the end of the trip, I’ll provide a run-down of how much we spent.

When we arrived last night, we hopped on the train into the city.  Many guides suggest you take the bus from the airport, which may be more convenient if you have luggage, but costs about $15 compared to $3.50 per person on the subway.  A taxi will cost you about $50.  The train was very clean and just as quick as a bus or taxi, and the station was about a 3 minute walk to our hotel.  So if you ever visit Seoul, suggest you take the train into the city, it will save you a few bucks.

After getting a decent night sleep, we walked to Namsan Park.  The park is a mountain and at the very top, there is N Seoul Tower, where you can get a 360 degree view from the observation deck.  The park’s trails were paved and maintained very well.  There is also a cable car that you can take to the tower, but knowing we were going to be eating more than we usually do, we decided we wanted to get some exercise and climb up and down the peak on foot.

For lunch we went to Namdaemun Market and looked around a bit.  Then it was off to Cheonggyecheon to walk along the stream.  This was probably the highlight of the day, a very serene and peaceful oasis in the city.  We walked the entire length of the creek, about 6 km.  Then we jumped the subway back to Itaewon for a little rest and dinner.

Below are pictures from today’s adventure.

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